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Globalising Women’s Football

Europe, Migration and Professionalization


Jean Williams

With an estimated 26 million female players globally (6 million based in Europe), the evolution of football has been dramatic. Growth in the women’s game has led to more widespread player migration as new forms of professionalism emerge. This work explores those patterns of movement into, and out of, Europe using new archival evidence and player interviews.


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Sources and Methods 37


Sources and Methods 2XUSHUVSHFWLYHRQWKHSDVWDOWHUV/RRNLQJEDFNLPPHGLDWHO\LQIURQWRI us is dead ground. We don’t see it, and because we don’t see it this means that there is no period so remote as the recent past. And one of the his- torian’s jobs is to anticipate what our perspective of that period will be (Bennett 2004: 74). 1. The academic literature on women’s football, professional leagues and migration Football’s migrants include those who have settled for a short time, emi- grated for longer periods and settled for life. First of all then, it is impor- tant to distinguish how movement is fundamentally related to migration, but also has its own distinct patterns of space and time. World-wide dif- fusion had been a feature of modern football since the nineteenth century (Tischler 1981, Walvin 1994). Soccer spread to the populations of indus- trialized Europe; countries in South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania and onwards. However, the international governance of the game remained Euro-centric in spite of autonomous football cultures developing in South America (Lanfranchi 1994). Football did not become truly global until after the Second World War when FIFA witnessed an unprecedented in- crease in membership. As the introductory comments have shown, af- ¿OLDWHV LQFOXGHGQHZSRVWFRORQLDO VRYHUHLJQ VWDWHV),)$¶V:RUOG&XS like the Olympic Games, provided a highly mediated showcase in which newly independent nation states could compete. The creation of UEFA was partly a response to the perceived need for Europe to re-assert its place in the emerging football world order. Only in 1970 were Asia...

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